"Of all the Michigan talent that flirted with stardom but never got invited to the party, there is probably no other band of the era so beloved and still so mourned as Ann Arbor's The Rationals. Certainly, here was a group that deserved fame and fortune but, incredibly, failed to get the notice and air-play that should have landed them among the best recording acts of all time. They were that good.
Blessed with a sterling vocalist, a brilliant guitarist who could more than hold his own as a singer, an inventive bass player and a propulsive drummer, The Rationals infused their stratified, garage-rock with rich vocalizing and harmonies, making local hit records out of a series of rhythm & blues nuggets such as "Leavin' Here", "Hold on Baby", and Otis Redding's "Respect" (their 45 pre-dating the Vagrants version and providing the inspiration for Aretha's) as well as an incredibly soulful take on Goffin-King's "I Need You" — which may be the finest version of that song ever waxed. The Rationals also had a fierce stage act that was the cornerstone of their fan following around Detroit and environs. One of the highlights of their live performances during the height of their popularity was a stunning soul-song medley built around Tony Clarke's "The Entertainer" that was truly a show-stopper, unleashing every element in their talent arsenal.
As local heroes, they are legend but The Rationals never caught that big break which would have let them cash in and grab the prominence of their contemporaries and friends like Bob Seger (who contributed singing and arranging on some of their singles) and the MC5. By most accounts, it appears that the same management that helped lead them from their early Kinks/Beatles influenced stylings ("Little Girls Cry", "Feelin' Lost") toward the harder rhythm and blues that became their trademark also, probably inadvertently, kept them just shy of the payoff: Instead of freeing the band to work with other producers, their manager Hugh "Jeep" Holland (A-Square Productions) apparently couldn't let go when the recording opportunities came and squandered several chances for the group to land a major label deal.
By the time they did break away from Holland and finally got an album to market via Bob Crewe's small label (with the help of local DJ Robin Seymour who often featured The Rationals on his television show) the group's depth had increased considerably. Their musical vocabulary had become expansive, reaching well beyond the tightly-arranged singles toward a newer sound that built on ever-maturing vocal and instrumental strengths. And, despite a protean effort in extending their reach with superb original compositions like "Guitar Army", the Corell/Morgan vocal tour-de-force "Ha-Ha" and the blazing "Sunset" as well as a cover of "Handbags & Gladrags" that simply destroys Rod Stewart's rendition, the album went nowhere (only for lack of good promotion and distribution) and The Rationals fans began moving on. Without the success of the long-awaited record to finally catapult them into the national spotlight, the band threw in the towel and by mid 1970 they had also gone the way of so many of the area's best groups.
If just barely missing the brass ring was their legacy, it's almost tragic that their recordings are yet to receive a properly produced modern day re-issue. Despite years of efforts by the band members and others interested in seeing this music released again, nothing in the way of an official (from the master tapes) nature has, thus far, materialized although bootleg CD's copped from old vinyl have filled some of the void. Their Cameo/Parkway releases remain captive to the rapacity of Allen Klein (except for "Respect" which did show up on the recent C/P box set) and for many years, their electrifying early work on A² Records created under the direction of Holland was withheld from re-release for reasons known only to Jeep. Holland's death in March 1998 only seems to have clouded the issue even further, compounding the coincidence that continues to deprive the world of the brilliance that was The Rationals".
Source: The Rationals @ Detroit area rock 'n' roll bands/musicians 1966-1972
The Rationals (1970)(35 Mb): MegaUpload / Rapidshare
Unreleased Tracks 1965-1968 (71 Mb): MegaUpload / Rapidshare
Temptation 'Bout to Get Me - Live (1995)(65 Mb): MegaUpload / Rapidshare
Singles (2001)(50 Mb): MegaUpload / Rapidshare
The Rationals - Official Page / Scott Morgan's history of The Rationals / The Rationals @ Wikipedia